The National Rifle Association acknowledged to Congress in writing last week that it has accepted contributions from 23 Russians—or Americans living in Russia—since 2015.
In a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the NRA said it had received just over $2,500 from these people—most of which was for “routine payments” for membership dues or magazine subscriptions, according to a report from NPR.
According to the letter, “two individuals who made contributions to the NRA” make up about $525 of that amount.
Wyden has been questioning the NRA about its Russian connections in the wake of reports that the FBI was investigating whether or not Russia used the organization as part of the attack on the 2016 election.
The NRA acknowledged that Alexander Torshin, a state bank official and Kremlin-linked politician, is a high-profile Russian NRA supporter with a lifetime membership who has reportedly cultivated a yearslong relationship with the organization. Last week he was placed under sanction by the U.S., along with other Russians.
“He has paid membership dues, but has not made any contributions,” NRA general counsel John Frazer wrote to Wyden. “Based on Mr. Torshin’s listing as a specially designated national as of April 6, we are currently reviewing our responsibilities with respect to him.”
Frazer then got a little spicy with Wyden and told him that he had answered all of his questions, so this would be the last response he would be sending to the senator’s office.
“Given the extraordinarily time-consuming and burdensome nature of your requests, we must respectfully decline to engage in this beyond the clear answers we have already provided,” he wrote.
Because people get all up in arms (pun intended) when you start questioning them about their Russian connections.
Isn’t it interesting, however, to find out that the NRA also has its toe—albeit shallowly—in Russia’s pool?
In the meantime, an aide in Wyden’s office told NPR that the senator would be forwarding all of his correspondence with the NRA to the Federal Election Commission to assist in its inquiry, and as “ranking member of the Finance Committee, he is considering additional oversight actions in light of this response.”